3 common productivity mistakes (and how to fix them)

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we are constantly struggling against the deadline and you cannot finish anything on time.

How could we fix this? Well, a good way to start is taking the time to have an honest look at your productivity mistakes. I did, and here’s what I found out.

“Know Thyself”

Have you ever woken up in the morning thinking “How am I going to do all those things??“, or lived with the constant feeling of things skipping your control and generally feeling exhausted? When this happened to me, I simply blamed it on the fact that there was “a lot of work to do”.

Because in the end, I thought I was productive – only, I wasn’t.

At one point, I took a deep look at my daily work. I started to be more careful not of what I was doing, but how I was doing it. And I discovered a few productivity mistakes that were silently dragging me down.

Productivity bad habits

In 2018, a UK-based deals company surveyed its 1900+ employees. They were asked: “Do you consider yourself to be productive throughout the entire working day?” The shocking result: participants said they were productive in a standard 8-hour workday, on average, just two hours and 53 minutes.

Distractions such as social media were listed as the biggest time wasters.

I’m fortunately disciplined when it comes to distractions. Nevertheless, I’ve found these other bad habits that I think damage my productivity in the workplace. I have a feeling you’ll find them familiar:

1. Multitasking

Multitasking, praised in the past as a must-have skill, is bad for productivity. The human mind simply can’t multitask. Our IQ actually lowers when we try to do many things at the same time!

I used to do too many things at the same time, and as a result, I kept losing focus, made more mistakes, while constantly feeling stressed.

How to fix this: do on thing at the time. I know that in the fast and challenging times we are living, that’s easier said than done. Try to work smarter instead: sort your tasks by priority, pick one and work on it until it is done. It will make the difference, believe me.

2. Perfectionism

Reading an email 10 times before sending. Checking my posts over and over again before publishing on social media. Compulsively re-reading my presentation_1/presentation_2_0/presentiation-definitive-final-approved. Eventually, I never finished anything. I wasted time and was always late for deadlines.

I’m not suggesting sloppy work. Of course, you have to check, re-read and double check. But you have to draw a line between what is really necessary, and what is, in fact, procrastination in disguise.

How to fix this: silence your inner perfectionist. Be accurate in your work, but don’t set up impossible standards.  

3. Constantly saying “YES”

We always try to do our best and make a good impression, to keep our reputation of efficient, reliable colleagues. We tend to say “yes” to every request, and our to-do list ends up growing and growing until it isn’t manageable anymore: taking on too much leads to stress and the constant feeling of being overwhelmed.

How to fix this: Be cooperative and open, but sometimes, a firm no is better than a shy yes. Simply explain why you can’t do that task right now. If it just has to be done, negotiate deadlines or, if possible, delegate to one of your colleagues.

Knowing yourself and being honest about your good and bad habits is the first step to improving your daily productivity.

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Have a productive day!

This article has been edited after publication. Last edit on 21/05/18

About Stefania

CMO at Timeneye, making sure the world knows how cool time tracking is. She believes that with careful planning and organization, anything is possible. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and belting out tunes from Broadway musicals (although the neighbours don't seem to appreciate that).